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How Korean boy band BTS took America by storm

14 5 9
08.06.2018

ON May 27, the seven-member South Korean boy band BTS became the first K-pop act to top the Billboard 200 chart with their third album, “Love Yourself: Tear.”

A week earlier, BTS had won “top social artist” for the second year in a row at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards, beating out the likes of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande. During the show, they performed their single “Fake Love” to the screams of adoring American fans, who seemed to have no trouble singing along to the song’s mostly Korean lyrics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=cngUnh7EMKoVideo can’t be loaded: [LIVE] BTS ‘FAKE LOVE’ – 2018 Billboard Music Awards (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=cngUnh7EMKo)

As someone who studies and teaches modern Korean culture, I’ve been following the ebb and flow of K-pop’s popularity in the US with a mix of interest and scepticism. Like Euny Hong, author of “The Birth of Korean Cool” (2014), I, too, am more familiar with a time when Korea was simply “not cool” by Western standards.

SEE ALSO: K-Pop superstars BTS make inroads into the US

For decades, Americans seemed to only think of Korea through the lens of the Korean War and diplomatic tensions with North Korea. Korean pop........

© Asian Correspondent